Vivian Kong stuns fencing world No 1 to regain women’s épée title at Asian Championships
- Kong beats Choi In-jeong of South Korea 12-11 in Seoul to lift the crown for a second time
- Another Hong Kong fencer, Natalia Chan, finishes joint third in first major international success
Vivian Kong Man-wai stunned world No 1 Choi In-jeong of South Korea to regain her women’s épée crown on Friday as Hong Kong got off to a winning start at the Asian Championships in Seoul.
The 28-year-old, who dropped out of the world’s top 10 this month, came back from behind to narrowly defeat home favourite Choi 12-11 in a nail-biting final at the SK Handball Gymnasium.
Kong was on the verge of defeat at 11-8 down in the closing stages, but hung on to take four points in a row and claim the Asian title.
“Thank you Hong Kong, I’m very proud of our team,” Kong said after her dramatic victory. “I’m passing on the good luck to our teammates who will be competing this week, and we will fight hard in the team event.”
There was more success for Hong Kong on the opening day of the regional event, as Natalia Chan Wai-ling finished joint third after losing to compatriot Kong 15-7 in an all-Hong Kong semi-final.
It was the first major international achievement for the 24-year-old, who returned to the city where she was born from New Zealand three years ago to pursue her sporting dream.
Ranked 185th in the world, Chan sent another home favourite packing in world No 6 Song Se-ra, defeating her 9-8 in the quarter-finals.
Former world No 1 Kong is one of three Hong Kong fencers to lift the Asian crown. She accomplished the feat for the first time in 2018 when she beat Kang Young-mi, also of South Korea, in the final in Bangkok.
Cheung Ka-long and Cheung Siu-lun have both won the men’s individual foil title.
Kong will now lead Hong Kong in the team event, which gets under way on Monday, when the city will look to mount a serious challenge to South Korea and China.
South Korea took silver at the Tokyo Olympics last summer with the combination of Choi, Kang and Song.
With Kong and Chan in good form, Hong Kong’s chances have also been boosted by China not sending Olympic champion Sun Yiwen to Seoul.
Moonie Chu Ka-mong and Coco Lin Yik-hei will round out Hong Kong’s team. Chu reached the round of 16 in the individual épée, before losing to Song 12-9, while Lin was eliminated in the round of 32.